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when the world went up in flames

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It had been 3 years since the once ‘United States’ had descended into chaos. At first, the attacks had just been attributed to terrorists, which disturbingly had once been an almost normal occurrence. What no-one had expected, especially Michelle Jones, was that the attacks were actually part of a much larger plan. A plan to tear a country and its entire population apart. A plan that resulted in a war like never seen before. One with few survivors to tell the tale.

 

 


 

The wind blew harshly around the buildings, some bursts slipping through their skeleton-like frames. Shattered glass sparkled in the light, before crunching under the weight of her boot. Her dark eyes darted from side to side as she carefully scanned the area around her. The familiar bounce of her bag against her hip as she walked was reassuring, giving her some sense of comfort. As she glanced down, she could make out the cracks in the leather of her worn-out boots. At this point, the only thing holding them together was her silent prayers and the last remnants of mud that still covered them from the last time it rained.

As Michelle continued to traipse down the street leaving a cloud of dust behind her each step, her gaze wandered to the horizon, stretched in front of her. Beyond the last few buildings of the town lay a no-mans-land, with the road littered with rubble and cracks. That was the next step of her journey. A warm pink tone began to fall around her, signalling that start of the night, providing some last beauty before the ominous dark crept in.

She stopped for a brief second, letting the silence of the area envelope her. The steady intake of air through her lungs was the loudest sound she could focus on. Her hand swept a mass of curls away from her face as she turned slowly, assessing the nearby buildings, trying to figure out which one looked the safest, or to put it bluntly to see which one looked least likely to collapse on top of her whilst she slept. Michelle had never been one for optimism.

Eventually settling upon an abandoned store to her right, she made her way in carefully, pulling herself in through what would have once been a window, but was now simply an empty frame. Kicking away rubbish from underneath the window, she set up a make-shift bed just to the side of it, giving herself a vantage point and a method of escape. She had been in too many close encounters to simply lie down in any spot and hope for the best. Leaning against the wall for support, she shifted so she could look out onto the road, hoping that sleep would come to her quickly tonight.

 

She couldn’t have been asleep for merely an hour before she was woken by a sudden flurry of noise. As Michelle opened her eyes blearily, she could hear movement from outside. Suddenly she was wide awake, quickly gathering her stuff into her bag, as the sounds, she heard now starting to sound like footsteps, got louder and inevitably closer. Carefully she pulled herself into a crouching position, her fingers tightening around her baseball bat, it's cold steel almost calming to the touch.

She gracefully vaulted through the window, landing with her knees bent and her hands out in front of her, preparing to defend herself. Michelle rose again, walking stealthily towards the location of the noise. She hoped to at least knock the mysterious figure out, giving herself ample time to make a get-away. She rounded the street corner slowly, her heartbeat pounding viciously in her ears.

A sudden shadow darted across the ground of her, with Michelle hurriedly ducking behind the broken remains of a wall. A sharp jolt of pain in her shoulder made her let out a brief yelp, as her momentum slammed her against the concrete. Her blood ran cold in her veins as she held her breath and bit down on her tongue, praying to any god there was that the figure didn’t see or hear her.

 

But then again Michelle had never had much luck with religion, even when she was a little girl, as her prayers fell short and the heavy footsteps neared closer and closer. She tensed in anticipation and she raised her baseball bat in front of her, poised to strike. As the figure turned the corner next to her, she propelled herself up and swung the metal bat with force at the figure’s head.

But instead of the knockout blow she was hoping for, a strong hand reached out and caught the bat. In shock, Michelle feigned an attempt to pull the bat back, but instead lashed out with a kick to the back of the man’s legs, sending him clattering to the ground. As she scrambled to pin him down and restrain him, a hand shot out and pulled her down to the gravel as the man briefly grappled with her and held her arms above her head.

They both lay motionless for a few seconds, chests heaving from the exertion. Michelle firmly held the man’s gaze, using the moment to assess his features. Brown, curly hair. Hazel eyes. Slightly shorter than her. About her age. Lean build, but with the strength he had just shown, clearly not weak.

 

“Alright listen to me carefully. I’m sure neither of us wants to be stuck here like this, so I’m going to offer you a deal. We both get up slowly, don’t attack each other and explain who we are. Deal?”

 Michelle didn’t know whether to trust this guy, but his ‘deal’ seemed like her best option at the moment, so she slowly nodded. They both cautiously separated from each other and stood up, carefully watching for any sudden movements and eyeing each other uneasily.

 “I guess I’ll go first since it was my idea. I’m Peter. Peter Parker. And you are?”